Saturday, January 30, 2010

COURTLY LOVE. Randy Barnett weeps over the uncivil treatment of the Supreme Court by President Obama. Jack Balkin laughs, wonders if Barnett has ever heard of the great SCOTUS-twitter Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Perhaps not wishing to pile it on, he leaves out FDR's plan to pack the court.) Barnett responds:
FDR did not launch the attack on live national television, with the justices there under the glare of cameras, having given them no advanced warning of the impending attack on the Court.
Yeah, because they didn't have TV in those days. What would have been an equivalent act in the 1930s? I guess FDR could have invited the Supremes to appear on a newsreel, and then ambushed them as the cameras rolled; or pretended to lambast James Clark McReynolds live on the radio, promoting this fiction by adopting a hammy old-man voice at intervals ("...hardening of the judicial arteries." "Now see here, young man, sputter, oh my heart..."). He didn't do either of these things, but I'm not sure the thought didn't occur to him.

Barnett goes on:
FDR did not foment the Democrats in Congress who surrounded the six seated justices–and the Attorney General a few feet away–to spring to their feet applauding his critique of the Court (note Harry Reid and Dick Durban enjoying themselves directly behind the justices).
You'd think they'd jumped the Justices and taken their wallets. I didn't get a good look, officer, but I know the leader was black!

My favorite part: a classic bit of video analysis* --
...notice the empathetic look of concern by the page...
Ah come on. If she were really concerned she would have started screaming like Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

If these guys had one-tenth as much concern for people who aren't powerful, this would be a wonderful world.

* -- Of course no one is better at this sort of thing than Ann Althouse. Check out her reading of SOTU stills. In another era, she'd be doing this with dolls and funny voices. (Yeah, I know, but if she did, don't you think she'd be podcasting them?)

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